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Saturday, January 17, 2004

How will Google et al. Seek Permission?

More on the battle for approved, spam-free access to inboxes for targeted ads...

Advertising.com has a deal with, for example, Topica Email Publisher, which may help some publishers increase revenues easily while providing advertisers with targeting opportunities.

There are several email sending services out there who send large volumes of email, and the battle over partnerships like this is sure to heat up soon. If Overture or Google can't wrest such partnerships away from smaller players like Advertising.com, what's next?

Clearly, we could see companies like Yahoo or Google acquiring the Topicas of the world. Google likely won't do it -- too risky to divert that much from their core focus. That leaves Yahoo, and even more likely, companies like FindWhat, Infospace, and Marchex who already seem willing to run themselves like eclectic holding companies (viz. FindWhat's acquisition of shopping cart provider Miva Corp.) -- in the running for such properties.

With once again high-flying Internet stock available to be used as currency, it's about to get busy - and messy - for the accountants and bankers.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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More on Email Ads and Google

Traffick readers already knew this, and David Krane of Google confirms that it's already happening. In any case, Lisa Baertlein of Reuters moves the AdWords-in-Email? story forward on a couple of fronts.

One key point in the Reuters article is that Sprinks had been one of the earliest PPC players to try email. Along with ContentSprinks and KeywordSprinks, they served DirectSprinks ads in email, as any subscriber to any About.com Guide newsletter knew. Since Google absorbed, then shut down, Sprinks, we've seen key Sprinks concepts reincarnated at Kanoodle following Kanoodle's hiring of former Sprinks execs including Lance Podell.

What it all likely means is that Google and Overture both have plans to march into the email advertising space in 2004. Given the financial markets' expectations for both Yahoo and Google, they may have little choice but to grab for their share of this revenue.

Further Reuters speculation about Google's relationship to email -- the notion that Google might someday offer free e-mail to compete with Yahoo Mail and Hotmail because they've registered the domain Googlemail.com -- is neither here nor there. More likely, Google simply didn't like the fact that another company had registered this name. Based on a complaint served in July 2002, an arbitrator ruled ["Panel finds in favor of Complainant Google Inc. and against Respondent Dot Name Communications and ORDERS, as a remedy, that the Domain Name be transferred to Google Inc."] that it was confusingly similar to Google's trademark, so Google took ownership of the name.

If Google did roll out an e-mail service, it would have to be something distinctive lest they risk trivializing the Google brand.

For now, this is still a story about advertising; specifically, the battle amongst various generations of agencies, middlemen, and technologists over a large swath of still-up-for-grabs online ad inventory.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Need More Inventory?

Then you might consider trying Advertising.com's new pay-per-click bidding system that shows ads in a variety of creative formats around the web, including banners.

With a baffling range of such options now being rolled out to take on traditional ad middlemen like Doubleclick and leading PPC services like Google and Overture, it looks like there will be plenty of work for agencies in coordinating media buys. That's slightly ironic considering that the purpose of these ad networks is supposed to be to "roll up" an advertiser's campaign into one tidy package.

In light of this, further consolidation of the myriad players in the PPC field is logical and seems to be assured.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Brand of Blah?

Marketer and site designer Jim Kukral wonders why usability guru Jakob Nielsen doesn't hire a designer for his functional-but-bland website. The answer is simple: brand.

Some sites hire accomplished designers and architects who can integrate brand feel with usability, persuasion, and smooth sales processes. Others eschew the designers; Google famously did so because, in the words of one co-founder, "we're not designers and I don't do HTML." As the world has noticed, a functional design like Google's can effectively tack on design elements (eg. cute cartoons) after the fact anyway.

So that's Jakob's story. His site is him. It's part of his identity. A Purple Cow. Some webmasters even borrow the design and then credit him with it. Moral of the story: design and brand go hand in hand... even the idea of having a really simple, boring design.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Portals. They Mattered Then. They Matter Now.

Kevin Lee explains a bit about why Yahoo's revenues are up a healthy 132 percent over a year ago: they who control the traffic win.

What's this? That Internet traffic and especially navigation became consolidated in a few leading properties (portals) has tremendously far-reaching consequences?

Could it be that the analysts, pundits, and journalists out there (present company excepted) failed to understand that dynamic when they gave Yahoo up for dead (repeatedly between 2000 and 2003)?

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Battelle's Search

So Wired founder and former Industry Standard CEO John Battelle is writing a book about search. It's not nearly as interesting as the cultural anthropology of donuts, but if anyone can bring life to a topic focusing on the various strange subspecies of technogeeks and street hustlers who can't get enough info about search engines, it's surely Battelle.

What kind of world do we live in where, on his blog, a former famous CEO is now using the name "Danny" in the same way that others in the search industry do... no last name needed?

It's a bit of a strange thing to watch unfold. Those of us who started tiny and focused heavily on one corner of the tech world -- online navigation -- never imagined that someday, we'd be running along more or less parallel lines (being asked to publish or speak about, blogging to a small but loyal audience, etc., all on the user's passion for and the business of being seen in Google, Yahoo, etc.) as folks who, when we came on the scene, were considered reverentially as something akin to royalty. I mean, Wired. It seemed like big stuff at the time, even though deep down, we thought most anyone with the same connections probably could have produced the same breathless chronicles of the brave new wired future.

I say "never imagined" that we'd gain any kind of foothold with a website that consisted of a few pages of tutorials and articles... but then again, I admit that (after rejecting the name SearchEngineWatchWatch.com) in christening the site Traffick (then: The Guide to Portals... now: Minding the Search Engines' Business... same deal, more or less), it did cross my mind that the names "Wired" and "Traffick" were similar.

In 2000, give or take, Internet royalty gave way to mortality, in the publishing world as elsewhere (by all means, read James Ledbetter's book on the "short, absurd life of the Industry Standard,") but it was the noisy ascent that lured dreamers of a lesser stature (such as your humble Traffick co-founders) into dipping a toe into this world.

It's a world we continue to watch with some awe, and it's been berry, berry good to us, in ways we never might have expected. It's actually energizing to see someone of Battelle's talents and intellect zeroing in on this industry. News and views in any niche can become routinized.

John, we could use you as CEO of Traffick.com, but at present we're short on VC largesse. How does $1/yr. sound to start? We can offer a generous option package.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The anti-e-card

So I'm in the card store yesterday and I see this whole section full of super-tactile, hippy-dippy greeting cards. Apparently hippies don't have many birthdays. Most of the cards are aimed at more generalized life phenomena such as "To My Son, I Love You."

Could it be? Yes! It's Blue Mountain Arts! Remember, those folks who had the little card business, had their son design a website, and before long, were selling their e-cards business for three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollars-worth of inflated Excite stock?

Go figure. To a billion dollars and back, and after the dust settles, the result seems to be considerably wider distribution of those distinctive textured paper cards? Way out, man. But can they do a little animated reindeer dance? I thought not. Not just yet, anyway.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004

New Traffick Article:
Froogle Reaches One-Year Milestone

By Adam Eisner - 1/13/2004

A year after Google launched Froogle, its beta shopping search engine, both the notoriety and the quality of the product have improved. And just like last year, Google recently made some key changes in quiet fashion during the holiday season – most notably integrating Froogle search results into Google’s.

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

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